by Sehba Ahmedi

“Survival of the fittest” is a phrase we have all heard time and again. It was used in connection with the animal and plant world. But today, not only do the beasts adhere to this rule, but humans do too. Henry Spencer is quoted to have said, “This kind of survival means multiplication of the fittest.” And he could not be truer.

Gone are the days when you would be one of the crowd and that would be just fine. Today you need to be SOMEBODY, being ANYBODY will not do anymore. This mad race to survive, and mind you, not live, is getting tougher. Life is no longer composed of eating, sleeping, earning and being merry. You must excel in whatever you do. In other words, you have to be a super man or superwoman.

Being ordinary does not get you anywhere. It’s being extra-ordinary that counts. If you can’t juggle work, family, friends, partying, learning and hobbies like an expert juggler then you are just not ‘living life king size.’ We live in a complex world which makes extreme demands on our abilities and ingenuity. We need to draw upon immense reserves of strength and inner resources to meet the demands that modern life makes of us.

The reason that a person strives to be a superman or superwoman is the pressure applied on one to prove one self to be better than the rest. There is a constant need to prove oneself better, abler, faster and smarter than the next person. We are always in a rush to meet deadlines to get our goal faster that the others, to snatch that contract, that deal from the others who are also in the race.

It all starts from the moment one is born. Mothers proudly announce how fast their baby learned to walk. Parents leave toddlers in daycare so that the children will learn how to get along with others. Every poetry recitation competition, every fancy dress competition must be participated in. And why not? Should the child not explore its talents? Until here it is fine. What is distressing is the mentality with which mothers encourage their children to enter these events. Children are told that they have to excel. They have to be the best. They have to be super children.

The latest computer games and cartoon serials are mastered and conquered. Tuitions for joining IIT colleges and universities are started from the sixth standard. There is pressure on children to get that 95% and more. Everyone is preparing for the bright future but what of now, the present?

Joining the top colleges and universities is the main aim. It does not matter that in the quest for a seat you might have been studying 24X7, burning the midnight oil and ruining your health in the process. Or have pumped lacs of rupees in capitation fees. The new paradigm for success in the modern world means that the super baby has to become a super child who later will become superman or super woman.

We are now witnessing a new trend of ‘work as you learn’. More and more youngsters are earning a quick buck by doing jobs along with their studies. If you were thinking that after getting admission into a prestigious university, you could come up for air and take a break, you are very wrong.

For now is the time when you show how you can attend college, work shifts and party till dawn and look like a fresh daisy in the morning. If you can’t do this then you surely must be slow and not really the stuff that the modern world requires.

When you finally reach adulthood your quest for a ‘soul mate’ begins. Of course your stars should match your partner should look like a model and earn a six figure salary or else you have no chance of surviving the initial courtship. In case someone achieves this and you do tie the knot there will be this tiny problem of manipulating your career plans to have children.

Children will soon be landed in day care and then school while you struggle to spend quality time with them.

I believe that in the quest for being a super human being we are losing touch with the important tings in life.  What is this life if so full of care?  We have no time to stand and stare?

The ideals, aims and goals of people are changing rapidly. No longer is a person working for fourteen hours a day considered a workaholic or spending all that you earn a fantastic whim. Pushing yourself until you are ready to snap is just ‘exploring your potential’.

A question comes to my mind at this stage- is it all worth it? The child who grows up among strangers, and longs to be with his parents when they are finally home, will never understand about unconditional love. The child who goes from tuition class to guitar lessons to tennis coaching will never discover the joy of being a child uninhibited, free and adventurous. The teenager whose whole life is her friends the disco bar and the hookah bar does not learn about sustained relationships. The family just happens to live under one roof. In the end we might be a member of the global family but truly we are alienated and alone.

But all is not lost every change brings with it some good and some bad. Today’s generation is more aware of not only the world but themselves too. They know exactly what they want. Illusions of life being a bed of roses or things arriving in a platter have long since been shattered.

Risks, adventures and exposure is what people are searching for and ready to take. The word impossible is not acceptable it just takes longer. The economy is booming, people are getting wealthy and the world is one big family. Distances have been bridged and the stars are now within reach. That, my friend, is the modern world

As for me I believe one should bite off only as much as one can chew. There is no need to measure one self with  someone else’s yardstick. Have one of your own. There is definitely great advantage is exploiting your talent but the result should outweigh the cost or it’s not worth it. Looking inside is essential. Looking outward is an option. Nourish your soul, stop running after physical or material pleasure. When you are too fast and furious to get somewhere you might miss life. Take it slow. Enjoy the music before the song is over.

Back to ToInspire Home Page